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Skin Barrier Buzz: The importance of your skin barrier and how to repair damaged skin barrier

How to fix skin protein barrier

The latest buzz sweeping the skincare world is all about your skin barrier and why it’s so darn important. 

But the importance of your skin barrier isn't a new buzz. It has been around forever. And it should be the foundation of any skincare product you use.

Prioritising skin barrier health is second nature to those of us in the skincare biz, but it's something we don't talk about enough, so it's a good thing that the skin barrier is having its moment in the spotlight again.

The importance of your skin barrier cannot be underrated. It plays such a big role in our life. And if you have a damaged skin barrier, it can really impact your wellbeing.

The book “Skin Barrier Function” by AJ Kanwar sums it up best

Physically, it protects from external threats such as infectious agents, chemicals, systemic toxicity and allergens. Internally, the skin helps to maintain homeostasis and protects from enhanced loss of water from the body.

If your skin barrier is damaged or unhealthy, skin issues will arise. Dermatitis, Psoriasis, eczema to name a few.

What is your skin barrier?

On the surface (pun intended!) it seems pretty simple, but in fact your skin is a complex and dynamic organism that is continually renewing.

It’s made up of 3 layers:

  1. Epidermis - the outer layer of your skin barrier which is also made up of skin cells, pigment producing cells and immune cells. Yes, your skin is part of your immune system - that’s how cool skin is!
  2. Dermis - the middle layer of your skin barrier where all the collagen and elastin live
  3. Subcutis - the lower level of your skin barrier which is made up of fat cells called adipocytes

For today we will focus on the epidermis and its outermost layer (also known as the stratum corneum) as this is where your skin care products do the bulk of their work helping with skin barrier repair.

The stratum corneum also has a really cool bio chemistry. It is like a brick wall keeping the good stuff (like moisture) in and the bad stuff (like bacteria) out. The bricks are your skin cells which are held together by lipids (ceramides, fatty acids and cholesterol). Keeping this structure strong is key to good skin and a healthy skin barrier.

How do you know if you have a damaged skin barrier?

This is easy, as all it takes is a simple looksee. If your skin looks dry, rough, scaly, red, inflamed or dull then your skin's barrier is not feeling 100% and it’s a sign that your skin barrier is damaged. 

It’s good to keep in mind that this can change from one day to the next as your skin is constantly on the defensive from wind, pollution, UV, dirt and bacteria. Also, when your skin is low on hydration the protective "brick wall" starts to break down and issues start to creep in.

Without giving your skin barrier some help your skin will get weaker and more prone to sensitivity and skin issues.

Skin barrier repair: How to fix skin protein barrier

There are plenty of ways you can give your skin a helping hand to ensure your skin barrier remains strong. The key is to keep the water and lipid levels in your skin nice and high. Here are our go-to tips:

  • Drink plenty of water
  • Limit alcohol and coffee intake
  • Eat good fats
  • Reduce the heat in the shower. The cooler the water, the better it is for your skin.
  • Use gentle products. Some soaps, exfoliators and cleansing products can deplete your skin by stripping away it’s natural oils.
  • Be mindful of cleansing devices/cloths/brushes as they can all upset the skin barrier balance if they’re too rough.
  • Avoid fragranced products. Fragrance may smell great but they usually do more harm than good. While synthetic fragrances are at the top of the “NO” list, you also might also need to watch essential oils as these can be issues for some people.
  • Moisturise!! Using a good moisturiser that supports your skin's natural lipids and natural moisturising factor is the best preventative of skin issues. Prevention is better than cure.

Brilliant Ingredients for Skin Barrier Repair

There are a gazillion moisturisers out there so how do you know which one is going to be right for you and which one will help with skin barrier repair? 

The reality is you don’t really know until you try it as we are all so different, but here are a few tried and tested ingredients that are wonderful at boosting your skin barrier function.

Niacinamide (Vitamin B3) - helps your skin to grow its own ceramides, helps build keratin protein and reduces inflammation to keep your skin firm, healthy and hydrated. 

Find it in: Over The Moon Rich Repair Cream, This is Me Enzyme Exfoliating Mask 

'Over the Moon' Rich Repair Cream 50ml

$34.95
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Ceramides - restores your skin’s lipid barrier of the skin to keep it well balanced and moisturised. 

Find it in: These will soon be popping up some new products so keep an eye out!

Hyaluronic Acid - a powerful humectant, Hyaluronic acid retains water keeping your skin hydrated and plump. There are many types of Hyaluronic acid but the most important thing to remember is they all do good for your skin. 

Find it in: Fairy Godmother Serums, Butterfly Kisses Probiotic Gel Cream, Serenity Hyaluronic Gel

On a side note, other skin-worthy humectants you find in our products are Sodium PCA, Propanediol and natural Pentylene Glycol. Even though their names don’t sound natural, they are, and we rate them very highly.

Saccharide Isomerate - a unique skin-idententical carbohydrate complex which blinds to your skin cells to provide deep hydration and strengthen your skin barrier. 

Find it in: Fairy Godmother Serum #3, Serenity Hyaluronic Gel

Emollients - Oils and butters deliver essential fatty acids to your skin keeping your stratum corneum strong. Some excellent choices for dry skin are Jojoba Oil, Hemp Seed Oil, Shea Butter and Macadamia Oil.

Find them in: TLC Intensive Repair Oil, Over the Moon Rich Repair Cream, Laugh Out Loud Nourishing Facial Oil

Occlusive agents - if your skin is damaged and in some real need of skin barrier repair, occlusive agents provide a temporary barrier so that your own skin has time to heal. Examples include natural waxes like bayberry wax, candelilla wax and jojoba esters. 

Find them in: Warm Fuzzies Nourishing Body Cream, Woohoo Solid Moisturising Body Bar, All Things Nice Multipurpose Balm

'Warm Fuzzies' Nourishing Body Cream

$24.95
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Our Top Product Picks for a Damaged Skin Barrier

If you’re looking for products to help with skin barrier repair, these products from the Woohoo Body range won’t let you down. We’ve included a few different options below for moisturiser styles, as some people prefer oils and others prefer creams. 

Product layering tip: When building your skin-barrier-boosting skin routine, keep in mind that if your skin barrier is damaged then you will need to apply your lightweight humectant (hydration) products - your water-based serums and gels - first. Then seal in all that wonderful hydration with an emollient or occlusive barrier with your oils, creams and solid bars.

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